Utilizing LinkedIn

Everything is done online nowadays: banking, sending messages,  participating in social interaction. Now you can even put up your resume for everyone to see…okay, okay, this is really nothing new. LinkedIn, the biggest one of the bunch, will be turning 11 in May, and there are others that have been around longer than that. The ability to post you resume up on the interwebs has been around for quite some time now, but you’ll be surprised how many students don’t take advantage of this.

The question is, why? Is it because nobody has heard of it? With 250 million plus members, I find that kind of hard to believe. Is it because students are lazy and would rather spend their time on Facebook instead? Most likely. Our time would probably be better spent though asking not so much why certain people don’t use LinkedIn, but instead, why should you use LinkedIn and how should you use it?

LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool that can spread your name out further than any of the other conventional means of networking at your disposal. It’s essentially the Facebook of the business world, only it’s more professional in the sense that you’ll be showing your profile off to tens of thousands (maybe even more) of employers. But there’s more to it than just making a LinkedIn page and calling it a day

To get more advice on the subject matter, I got an interview with my good friend, Joshua Adams, the Head Honcho over at Rock Paper Simple. Aside from his ability to make some amazingly awesome websites, he has a ton of business and marketing experience. In fact, some of the local colleges have sent him invitations to speak and has taught on those subjects. One of things he’s talked about is how to utilize LinkedIn, and I thought of no one better to ask about the subject.

Me: First question…why use LinkedIn?

Joshua: The reason you would use LinkedIn is because it is the social media platform that allows you to make business connections, whereas you’ve got Facebook, Twitter, and all these other places that are more personal. LinkedIn is your connection to future employers, future coworkers, and clients, and things like that. as opposed to Facebook…I mean, I’ve sold stuff on Facebook– well, maybe like one thing. On LinkedIn, I’ve sold tens of thousands of dollars worth of stuff on it. If you’re a service provider, like me, you’re looking for leads. if you are a student, you’re looking for a job. Maybe you’re looking for an employer or a job opportunity or whatever it is. Investors use it to find investment opportunities, etc, etc. The number one reason to use LinkedIn is because that’s where the business people are at. that’s where the jobs are, where the work is. Another reason is for credibility sake. people can look me up, Google my name, find my LinkedIn profile. They see recommendations, they see details,  information, etc, etc.

Me: How do you create a good profile?

Joshua: First, start with a good picture, something that makes sense. If you have a surfing company, then fine, put a picture of you on the beach with a surfboard; but if you have a web design agency, or you’re a graphic designer, then don’t do that! I had a graphic designer who wanted me to hire him. I checked his LinkedIn profile and was him at a bar with a bunch of women with him and a beer in his hand. No, I’m not hiring you, forget it! Your profile should reflect how you’re going to look in an interview. Look, feel, talk, smell…it should be that way in your profile. That’s how mine is. It’s professional, it’s serious, but’s it’s also a little silly because that part of my brand and who I am.

Me: What should you put in it?

Joshua: Number one, your summary needs to be concise, tells what sets you apart, tells people what you do. I see a lot of people put in their summary just a boring dissertation of exactly where they came from, what they did, and who they are. Oh my gosh, nobody cares! Just tell me who you are, what sets you apart, maybe be a little funny, ask a couple questions even. Just set yourself apart in the summary. Make sure your headline is good too. Again, put something down that sets you apart. For me, I’ve put “over 12 years of web design and marketing experience.”

Me: Beyond just the summary and headline, what else?

Joshua: Make sure you’ve put in as many past jobs as you can. At least the important ones, the ones relevant to what you’re doing. If you don’t have a lot, then put them all. A lot of people are like, “I don’t have a lot a web design experience, so I’m not going to put anything.” Well, no, employers still want to see that you have a work history. Or a lot of people put in, “Worked at XYZ Print Company. Helped print stuff,” or something stupid like that. Tell me what you did, what was your responsibility, how were you instrumental in helping that company grow. Talk about it. Any time  you’re putting copy into your profile, use key words that make sense. For instance, I try to use “web design” or “web development” or “internet marketing” a lot  so that I’ll come up in the search for that. Fill out the profile, fill out the portfolio, fill out the work history, fill out the affiliation stuff. Fill it out. Another thing you want to do is ask for recommendations from professors, fellow students, coworkers and so on to recommend you. That’s a credibility thing.

Me: And people can do that for individual skills as well. Is there any that people should focus on?

Joshua: The skills and recommendations are different. Recommendation are more like testimonials. Skills…they just added them and I think they’re kind of stupid. You can add up to fifty of them and they act as endorsements. People can hit +1, saying, “he’s good at SEO, he’s good and web design, he’s good at picking his nose” and whatever other skills in there. Getting people to endorse you is good, but it’s not a big deal.

Me: So it’s really not that important.

Joshua: It looks good, but it means nothing. For example, I connect with tons of people, something like six thousand connections. I get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of endorsements for web design, SEO, and web marketing. Hundreds of them. Those people do not know me. I probably have a total of two or three thousand endorsements and maybe two hundred of those people know that I’m actually good. Many of those people probably just read my profile and assume that I know my stuff. Recommendations actually mean someone had to sit down, write something, and post it.Those mean something.

Me: How do you get more connections?

Joshua: That’s a strategy all in itself. There’s a lot of different ways.  Number one, when you meet somebody new in a networking environment, go search for them…by their email, by their name, by company. Go ahead and send them a request. Another thing you can do is go to recommendations and send a request. Don’t send it blindly to anybody, just send it to who make sense. Be conversational and say, “Hey, can we be connections on LinkedIn?” In your description, if you mention that you’re a LION, which means you’re a LinkedIn Open Networker, it says that you want people to connect with you. People know what that is.There’s lists to get get on for that, like Top Linked, where people look through a list for people they want to be connected with. Other ways are to put your LinkedIn URL on your business card, your website, on Facebook…out there where people can see it.

Me: And what would the trick be to using LinkedIn to get good results?

Joshua: Depends on what your “result” is. You result could be getting more sales, like me. I want to get more sales as a company and I want to be able to convey that value. Your result could be getting a job, finding an opportunity, maybe an investor or something to invest in, all depending on what the goal is. Since we’re talking to students here, you’re probably looking for a job. They key to any result is to do it on purpose. In business, in school, in life. Do it on purpose. How do you do it on purpose? The name of the talk that I give is actually called “LinkedIn On Purpose”, and that’s because most people just stumble right through it, hoping it works. The biggest strategy I can give you is if someone connects with you, always respond. Doesn’t matter who they are. If they send you an invite and you accept it, respond. I have a pre-canned response that I tweak every now and then and I send it out to every request that I accept. If you send out a request and somebody accepts, send an email, something. “Hey, I’m glad we’re connected. Here’s who I am, what I’m doing. Let’s talk.” If you send out a request, have a little note saying that you just want to connect with people and this is why I’m looking to connect. Create conversation. If you start a conversation, things will start happening. If you don’t, you’re just building connections for no reason.